See? Strikeforce delivered again. They once again proved that Zuffa is making the right choice by promoting Strikeforce separately and allowing their fighters to compete under the Strikeforce banner. Besides the co-main events, there was also another main card fight that was worth watching. Add that all together, and this card is definitely worth tracking down.
First up was the unexpected gem of this card. Tarec Saffiedine and Scott Smith battled through a three round slug fest with Saffiedine putting on a striking clinic all over Scott Smith’s face. From the onset, Saffiedine systematically dismantled Smith’s game by being the faster, busier fighter while on his way to a three round unanimous decision victory. Smith seemed to have trouble adapting to Saffiedine’s southpaw stance and was never able to settle into any rhythm at all. To make matters worse, starting late in round one and into the next two, Saffiedine showed impressive footwork by switching from southpaw to orthodox at will. Just about every time he switched to orthodox, Saffiedine would land huge kicks to Smith’s leg and head. It appeared that training at Dan Henderson’s Team Quest camp seemed to make a huge difference in Saffiedine’s preparation for and performance during his fight and has helped solidify him as one of the top competitors in the welterweight division. Here is a short video of Saffiedine working out at Team Quest prior to this fight.
The next fight was the first of the two co-main events with Marloes Coenen defending her 135-lb women’s world title against wrestling all-star Meisha Tate. This was my first experience with women’s MMA and to be honest, I was really impressed. This fight lived up to every ounce of hype and surely did wonders for the advancement of women’s MMA. This fight had ground war written all over it and there were no surprises. Coenen vs. Tate was an awesome match-up between a high level BJJ practitioner and a high level wrestler with both women displaying the finer points of their respected disciplines. It was also one of the closest scoring bouts I have watched in a while. Both women came out ready to grapple and after minimal feeling out on their feet, the fight was taken to the ground. Tate won round one by securing the take down and controlling the action from side control but was never able to work past that. Round two was shaping up to be more of the same with Tate pushing Coenen against the cage while trying to work for the take down. Just when it looked like Tate had gained an advantage and was ready to take Coenen down, Marloes pulled off the best sweep I have seen in MMA. From the sweep, Coenen was able to get on Tate’s back and had her wrapped up the rest of the round, but was not able to finish. Round three looked much like round one for about three and a half of the five minutes but towards the end, Coenen pulled off another sweep that could have taken the round for her. One of the many reasons why this fight was so close was that both fighter’s defenses were so effective that neither seemed able to work to a truly dominant position. That is until the fourth round. Once again, Tate was able to display her insane wrestling abilities and get Coenen in side control. From there, Tate used the cage to stabilize her position and locked in an arm triangle from side control that left Coenen with no choice but to tap, relinquishing her belt to Tate in the process. This was a great fight and I would for sure love to see a re-match.
I was already thoroughly enjoying this card prior to the Fedor vs. Hendo main event and this fight kept me going. From the second these two warriors touched gloves, it was an all out barrage of punches. Both fighters came out with the same “I’m knocking someone out tonight” mentality and it was apparent to everyone watching. Henderson landed the first big shot about 30 seconds in and it looked like it stunned Fedor, but he was not able to finish him then. Fedor was able to clinch Henderson but did not hang on for long and the fighters worked to a break and immediately started throwing again. This time, Fedor looked like he was gaining the upper hand by landing his trademark left uppercut right hook combination that forced Hendo against the cage. Just as Fedor was closing the gap and looking to take down Hendo for some ground and pound, Henderson pulled off a great escape by slipping under a right hook by Fedor and moving around his side. At the same time Hendo was moving under the punch, he threw an uppercut that landed right on Fedor’s button delivering the first KO of Fedor’s legendary career. This happened so fast I didn’t even see it the first time. I was pissed at referee Herb Dean for stopping the fight because seemingly milliseconds after the punch landed Fedor was conscious and trying to defend himself. But after seeing the replay it was evident that Fedor was out and Herb made the right call. Even though this fight was over barely four minutes into it, it was still one of the most entertaining fights in recent memory. Both world class fighters pushed themselves to their limits and truly delivered a super fight. After this card, I am excited to see what Strikeforce has in store for the rest of this year.